By Elise Fisch
On the evening of Thurs., Nov. 19, the Florida Union Free School District Board of Education met to discuss recent updates received earlier that day from the Orange County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Irina Gelman, regarding school building closures surrounding the upcoming holidays.
The notice from the health commissioner, which was sent to all Orange County school districts, informed school boards that they would be required to close their doors to in-person instruction in the two weeks following Thanksgiving, and again for two weeks following the Christmas and New Year break. Prior to the districts receiving this written information, Dr. Gelman had held a virtual meeting with all Orange County superintendents to discuss the school closures, after it was apparent that the number of coronavirus cases had spiked following Halloween.
Being a relatively small district, Florida schools may have the option of resuming in-person instruction for the seven and a half days following the two weeks of going full-remote after Thanksgiving, from Mon., Dec. 14 to Wed., Dec 23 (an early dismissal day). The Board is hopeful that they will be able to utilize those days to bring students back into the school building, however, the decision may be out of their hands if coronavirus cases spike again following Thanksgiving. Superintendent Jan Jehring and President of the School Board John Redman agreed that it is important to provide as many in-person instruction days as possible for both their students and staff.
If the schools cannot resume in-person instruction for those eight days, the buildings will remain closed from Nov. 30 through Jan. 18, implementing a full-remote learning schedule. This prolonged closure is likely to lead to furloughs of staff members, as has been the unfortunate trend for many Americans during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A remote meeting was held on Mon., Nov. 23 following the Nov. 19 school board meeting for the purpose of reaching out to parents in the district and offering them a platform to ask questions and voice concerns regarding the school building closures and full-remote instruction periods.
In accordance with an Executive Order (EO No. 204) issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, the school board has added the holiday known as Juneteenth to their student calendars for the 2020-2021 school year. June 19 marks the day that the enslaved people of America were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. The district will remain open, but schools will be closed to students in observance of the day.
The Florida School Board will hold a work session meeting on Thurs., Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of the S.S. Seward Institute, located at 51 N Main St. in Florida, NY.
Fifth grade students at Golden Hill Elementary recently took a virtual field trip to the National Archives in Washington D.C.